Friday, January 31, 2020

January’s Tea: Monthly Update

Hello Lovelies!

I hope all of you are doing well and January has treated you kindly.

For me, January has been a blur of knee injuries, hospital stays, and window issues (more about that in an upcoming February post), and now I’ve picked up the flu so I’ve not had much time for blogging. I have managed to get through several audiobooks and a few books so February is going to be loaded with reviews and fun, new features.

Here’s what happened on the blog in January.
I reviewed a few books…
I set some goals…
I shared my favorite books…
I sampled a few makeup palettes perfect for 2020…
And I gave you a glimpse of the products I used this month…

Thursday, January 30, 2020

January Empties

I bring a ton of beauty/skincare/makeup products in each month from subscription boxes, purchases, gifts, and review items so I thought I would start sharing my monthly empties. Not only will it be a place for me to share what I liked and didn’t like/what worked and what didn’t I thought it would hold me accountable to actually using up the mountain of products I received.


Face Masks
1—Sephora Collection Aloe Vera (Quenching & Replenishing) Sheet Mask—I picked up a set of the Sephora Collection masks on whim the last time I stopped in and, I have to say, even though this claims to be for dry skin, I found it to be very drying. I only left it on for 15 minutes and by the time I removed it the fiber mask was completely dry. I’ll not be buying this again.
2—Epielle Mermaid Sheet Mask (Glowing & Hydrating)—this was a fun little mask with a mermaid print on it that was very hydrating. I received this in a set of face masks for Christmas and I can’t wait to try out another one.
3—Simple Pleasures Collagen Sheet Mask—This was a nice moisturizing mask that I found at Walgreens in their Christmas display. I picked up several of these, which was a good thing seeing as they were only released as part of their Christmas collection.
4—Simple Pleasures Green Tea Sheet Mask—this was another mask that I picked up at Walgreens in their Christmas display and it was one of my favorites. I’m all for green tea in my skincare products—in fact, occasionally I was my face with green tea—and this one does calm my occasionally red skin. I went back and picked up several of these masks. Sadly, they were only part of their Christmas collection.
5—Aroh Centella Herb Cooling Mask—I received this one in my Facetory box and, while I liked it, I was a little disappointed that I had to refer back to the pamphlet that came in the subscription box to find an English version of the directions. The mask itself was nice but I’m not sure I’ll purchase this again as I have a horrible time keeping track of the direction pamphlet.
6—Too Cool For School Pumpkin Sleeping Pack—I’ve been trying to get into the habit of using sleep/overnight masks at least once a week for extra hydration and while this one was okay, I didn’t really see where it provided any extra moisture. It was basically an extra layer of thin lotion. I won’t be purchasing this product.
Eye Masks
1—SooAE Panda Eye Brightening Mask (Hydrates & Soothes)—this was a fun little mask that came in my IPSY bag. Not only was this a cute little panda mask, it hydrated my under eyes. I’ll be picking this one up again when I find it.
2—BLAQ Hyaluronic Acid Eye Mask—I’ve had these for a while—they came in one of my FabFitFun boxes—and I just used my last one up. These are some of the best eye masks that I’ve used and I will be replacing them.
Foot Masks
1— Aveeno Repairing Cica Foot Mask (two packs)—I’m addicted to these. I put them on, pick up a book or pop in a movie, and just let my feet chill for a few hours. I find using these twice of month keep my feet hydrated. I have repurchased these and will do so again.
Hair Masks
1— Found Marumuru Balm-to-Oil Hair Mask (two packets): I picked this up on a whim at Wal-Mart, tried it, and fell in love. I’ve used two packets this month and I found they really hydrated my hair and tamed my wild locks. I picked up about 20 packets so I won’t need to be buying this in the near future but I will repurchase when I run out.
Face Cleansers
1—Farmacy Clean Bee—this is one of my favorite cleansers and I will be repurchasing this item.
2—Drunk Elephant Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser—I didn’t mind this cleaner but I found it a bit hard to clean off of my Foreo. I’m on the fence about buying this one again.
Body Wash
1-Rituals—The Rituals of Sakura Zensational Foaming Shower Gel—this was okay as a shaving gel but not something I would use as a body wash.
Face Lotions
1—Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion—I received this in my first FabFitFun box and finally managed to finish it. While it was a nice lotion, it wasn’t one of my favorites. I have one more tube to finish up and I won’t be buying this one again.
2—It Confidence in a Cream—I’m trying to use up all small lotions that I’ve received in my Ipsy bags. I really liked this one. It was nice and moisturizing. I’ll probably pick up a full size of this one when I need to repurchase moisturizer.
3—Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb—another one I received in my Ipsy bag. I’m not a massive fan of this cream. It doesn’t really sink into my skin but rather sits on top of my serum.  I’ve received several of these and have passed them on to my mom who enjoys this cream.
4—Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream (two containers)—these are some of my favorite moisturizers and I will be buying a full size of this product when I need to repurchase moisturizer.
Toner, Serum, Refreshers
1—Dickinson’s Toner with Rosewater—this is one of my favorite toners and I have repurchased this.
2—Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil—I loved this serum. It’s on the pricier side so I’m waiting for a sale before repurchasing it.
3—Bath and Body Works Pure Simplicity Acai Berry Face and Body Refresher—this is a nice refreshing spray that I keep in my yoga bag. I picked up several bottles of this—and a rosewater one— when they had their semi-annual sale and I haven’t seen it in stores since, which is a shame since I love this refresher.
Body Lotion
1-Bath and Body Works Champagne Apple and Honey—this was one the new fall scents I picked up and enjoyed it. I generally switch up my lotions to match the season but they’re all from Bath and Body Works.
1—Katy Perry Killer Queen Perfume—this is one of my favorite perfumes and I actually received a replacement for Christmas.

1—Covergirl Ready, Set, Gorgeous 220 Soft Honey Foundation—I used to like this foundation but not so much anymore. I finished this one and ended up tossing the other one I had.
2—Jesse’s Girl Eyeshadow Primer—this one wasn’t one of my favorite eyeshadow primers. I basically only used it on no makeup makeup days.
3—Kokie Prep Up Eyeshadow Primer—This is an okay drugstore eyeshadow primer. I have others that I prefer over it. I have another tube of this one and, after I finish that one up, I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing.
4—Kokie Fix it Up Matte Long Lasting Setting Spray—I don’t reach for matte setting sprays often, but this was a nice one. I have a ton of setting sprays so I don’t need to pick another one up.
5—Rimmel Lasting Finish 25HR Breathable Foundation in 201 Classic Beige—this is one of my favorite drugstore foundations. It wears perfectly and it’s the perfect shade to make my skin tone. I have repurchased this.
Essential Oils

1—Radha Beauty Lemon Essential Oil—I use this in my makeup brush cleaner and I have repurchased this.
2—Radha Beauty Bergamot Essential Oil—I also use this in my makeup brush cleaner and I have repurchased this.
3—LorAnn Oils Bergamot Essential Oil—this is one of my favorite food-safe essential oils and I will be replacing this one.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Cowboy Courage by Carolyn Brown

After spending years traveling the world with the military, Rose O'Malley is ready for a change. Heading back to Texas to hold down the fort at her aunt's bed-and-breakfast will give Rose just the break she needs. But while she may speak seven languages, she can't repair a leaky sink to save her life. When Hudson Baker strides in like a hero and effortlessly figures out the fix, Rose can't help wondering if the boy she once crushed on as a kid could now be her saving grace.

Hud has always been rock-solid and dependable-a quintessential cowboy to his core. But the moment Rose steps back into his life, his world is turned upside down by meddling family, a rescued baby, and one highly mischievous cat. Now he'll have to decide if it's time to throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to convince Rose that by her side is exactly where he wants to stay.
Series: Longhorn Canyon #6 | Publisher: Forever | Release Date: 1/28/2020  | Genre: Contemporary Romance  | Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups 

Challenges Read For:  -  Literary Pickers : Porch Swing
Each time I pick up a book by Carolyn Brown, it’s like visiting old friends. There’s just that comfy, cozy, warm, fuzzy blanket feeling her books give me—they’re definitely like comfort items for me.
Here’s what’s going on. While Hud and Rose only knew each other for one school year, they both left lasting impressions on each other and now, 15 years later, they’re finally getting their chance to see if they can be more than junior high sweethearts. Although there’s a lot they have to contend with while attempting to get reacquainted: a zany, pistol-toting aunt, an ornery cat, a natural disaster, and Rose’s fear of settling down.
Hud’s one of my favorites. He’s dependable, loyal, willing to go above and beyond to help others. He’s everything a good cowboy should be. There’s only two things he wanted: to own his own ranch and the girl he fell for when he was fourteen. While I liked Rose, she’s unsettled and, while deep down she knew what she wanted, she knew she was afraid to make a decision. That indecisiveness started to grow old.
The relationship between Hud and Rose was slow to start, which worked. Hud was in from the start but he was waiting for Rose to come around before he allowed himself to feel comfortable. Given the way the previous books are, I know there will be glimpses of Hud and Rose’s life together but I was hoping to see a bit more of them fully committed in this book.
While there were a few things that were a bit off for me in this book, the major one came from the added drama towards the end of the book. It just came out of left field and left me scratching my head. There was really no need/cause for it. Thankfully, it was over quickly but it still caused me to lower my rating.
Overall, while I liked this one, it had it issues. Something felt off in this one and not on par with the previous books in the series. I still recommend this one but, sadly, it wasn’t my favorite.
Longhorn Canyon Series
Cowboy Bold
Cowboy Brave
Christmas with a Cowboy
Cowboy Courage


Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

Shannon Hammer’s younger sister, Chloe, left Lighthouse Cove after high school to make it big in Hollywood. And she did it! Chloe is the cohost of a popular home-repair show on the Home Builders Network. Now, after 10 years, she has returned to their quaint coastal hometown to film several shows featuring her sister, Shannon, along with some special mini-segments on Victorian style and design. 

But Shannon quickly realizes that things are not exactly blissful in TV land. Bree, the executive producer of the show, has a knack for stirring up sticky situations, and when she’s found dead, Chloe and the entire crew are under suspicion. Shannon, her thriller-writer boyfriend, Mac, and their crime-solving friends soon unearth the real reason Chloe left home.

Is that 10-year-old secret connected to Bree’s death? And can Shannon track down the real killer before her beloved sister becomes the next victim?
Series: A Fixer Upper Mystery #6 | Publisher: Audible | Narrator: Eileen Stevens  | Length: 7 hrs and 45 mins  | Genre:  Cozy Mystery| Source: Publisher | Rating: 3.5 Cups

Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge
This series, while I generally enjoy it, has been hit and miss for me. This was one of the better ones in the series but it still had its problems.
Here’s what’s going on. When Shannon’s sister brings her home improvement show to Lighthouse Cover, Shannon is excited for her and her crew to be a part of it until she and her sister discover Bree—the executive producer—dead. As the show progresses and more danger unfolds, Shannon starts to wonder if her sister is the real target.
It was fun seeing Shannon and her sister, Chloe, work reunite after Chloe’s been gone for so long. Although there’s a reason (even if it sounds a little overly dramatic) that Chloe left ten years ago and while she’s ready to set things to right, she’s still worried about the fallout from it. And of course, Shannon is willingly to do all that she can to protect her sister from being wrongly accused.
While Shannon finally seems to be maturing, the way she acted when Eric was questioning Chloe was rather childish. She’s been questioned by the police several time yet decided to make a big fuss out of them questioning Chloe to the point she was telling Eric how to do his job.
The mystery aspect of this one was interesting if a little predictable. I knew who the killer was when the body was discovered and ended up being right. I was a little surprised that this one wasn’t very investigation-focused until the last 60% of the book. Instead of Shannon focusing on finding the killer, she was more focused on working on her sister’s show.
Of course, there’s a bit of romance mixed in and we see Shannon and Max growing more comfortable in their relationship (although I will always say that Shannon should be with Eric). We also see the start of something between Chloe and Eric.
This is the first time Eileen Stevens has narrated a book in this series and just didn’t work for me. Her narration was okay but she just didn’t seem connected to the book. I’m not a fan when narrators are switched in an on-going series.
Overall, this was a nice addition to the series. I’m still not as wowed as I was before but I feel like it’s getting back to where it was before.
Fixer Upper Series
A Wrench in the Works (Fixer-Upper Mystery #6)


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Confessions of a Makeup Magpie: LA Splash Golden Gatsby Review

If you’re a fan of The Great Gatsby or the roaring ‘20’s or just excited that the ‘20’s are back then I have a few makeup palettes to share with you that will have you doing The Charleston.

While the Golden Gatsby collection from LASplash Cosmetics has been around for a bit, I just received the Golden Gatsby Eyeshadow Palette and the Golden Gatsby Old Money Highlighter Palette (both $28.00 USD) for review.

This line also includes, lashes, liner, lipstick, lip gloss, and mascara, which I did not received. What surprised me a bit about this line is that it didn’t include blushers. When I think about makeup from this era, the rosy cheeks stood out. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have a blusher.

My first impression: The gorgeous art deco packaging blew me away. I had to smile at the era-appropriate shade names. They really went the extra mile with the packaging and presentation. I was immediately drawn to the ‘foil shades’ in the eyeshadow palette. They looked buttery smooth but, when I swatched them it was a different story.
Now On To My Review…
The packaging on both the eyeshadow palette and the highlighter is a lovely art deco theme in a matte black with golden details.

The eyeshadow palette has cardboard packing with magnetic closure and a mirror. On the back of the palette it says, “Darling, it wouldn’t be a party without you” in embossed gold lettering. It comes with a gold embossed slipcover, which explains the meaning of the shade names on the back.
While the packaging is adorable with the art deco design of a flapper on the inside of the lid of the highlighter palette, I would have preferred a mirror. The case is a sturdy plastic, I know some don’t care for plastic packaging but I actually prefer it because it protects the highlighters better. This comes in a gold embossed cardboard box.

Golden Gatsby Eyeshadow Palette $28.00 USD
Top Row
French 75: satin vanilla, Mary Pickford: satin peach, Highball: matte burnt orange, Old Fashioned: matte brown, Mint Julep:  matte moss
Bottom Row
Hotsy-Totsy: Pink foil with silver shimmer, Ritzy: 24k Gold foil, Sheba: Copper foil, Zozzled: Forest Green shimmer with gold flakes, Speakeasy: matte black

The foil shades are not nearly as sparkly as the ones in the promo picture
The matte and satin shades (French 75, Mary Pickford, Highball, Old Fashioned, Mint Julep, and Speakeasy) blend like a charm and are highly pigmented. They do have a bit of kick-up in the pan when lightly tapped with a brush. The shades Mary Pickford and Speakeasy seem to have more than the others do and I feel like I’ll go through those shades faster (especially Mary Pickford) because of the amount of kick-up they have.  After tapping off the excess, I still noticed quite a bit of fallout with Speakeasy.
Applied with finger over primer

The foil shades all perform a bit differently so I’m going to break them down individually.
Hotsy-Totsy and Ritzy are both extremely flaky and, while you can use your finger, I highly recommend that you wet your brush to achieve flake-free coverage.
You can see that the shade Sheba has flaked off in the pan

Sheba is still flakey but I would consider it a nice foil. While it can be used with a dry brush, to achieve a true foil look it’s best to use your finger or a wet brush. Zozzled is one of my favorite shades in the palette—I’m such a sucker for greens). While I wouldn’t consider it a full out foil, it is a nice shimmer with gold flakes. This one does deliver a nice color payoff when used with a dry brush although there’s a little more pop when applying with your finger or a wet brush.

From left to right: Shade: Ritzy applied over primer with a wet brush, applied over primer with finger, applied without primer with dry brush, applied without primer with finger

To get the best application these eyeshadows need to be applied over a concealer or eyeshadow primer. I tried several primers but I had the best color payoff and application when using NYX Proof It and Milani Eyeshadow Primer that I lightly set with a translucent setting powder. The brushes I used were Luxie brushes (Luxie 243 Precision blending, Luxie 231 Small Tapered Blending, Luxie 121 Mini Tapered, Luxie 245 Small Shader).

When using the foils, I do recommend wetting your brush. If you’ve never used eyeshadows wet before, here’s how I liked to do it. I pick up the eyeshadow on either a flat shader or concealer brush (my favorites are Luxie 245 small shader and F.A.R.A.H. 10F concealer), spray it once with the Hyrda Primer spray from Essence (any setting spray or hydrating spray will do), then apply to my eyelid. Before going back into my palette, I wipe my brush off on a towel then repeat the process.
I never go into my pans with a wet brush. Not only can it cause hardpan, it can cause mold and bacteria to grow in your eyeshadow pans. 

Golden Gatsby Old Money Highlighting Quad $28.00 USD
Dough—Frosty White, Mazuma—Golden, Sugar—Champagne, Scratch—Pink Champagne
These are some of the most gorgeous and buttery highlighters that I’ve used and I have to say they are right up there with the same quality as Ofra’s highlighters.
All four of the shades in this quad have the same quality of color payoff and, when I put these on, I don’t have to worry about my highlighter disappearing throughout the day.
When swatched with my finger, they were a tad bit flaky but when I actually applied them with a brush, they went on smoothly. They do have a bit of kick-up in the pan both with a brush and from just sitting in my makeup drawer.

The kick up in this was just from sitting on the table waiting for me to photograph the highlighter.
Although all of the shades are lovely, I use Sugar, Scratch, or a mix of the two as my highlighter. Dough is nice for an inner corner highlight and Mazuma makes a lovely eyeshadow. If you prefer icy white or gold highlights, you’ll love Dough and Mazuma.

My overall impression: The Highlighter Quad is amazing. I’ve been reaching for this one over and over again since it arrived. Very nice quality that lasts all day. I highly recommend adding this one to your collection.
The Eyeshadow Palette was nice but it takes some work. The mattes and the satins glide on and blend effortlessly. The foils need to be applied wet for any color payoff or staying power. Considering this is a $28 palette, I was expecting more from the foils. I’ve had palettes that have cost less and their foils have performed better. With that being said, I do think this is a nice palette and I’ve received several compliments on my eyeshadow while wearing it.

I use Essence Primer + Studio HD Hydra Primer Spray to wet my brushes when I applied the foil shades. Not only is it hydrating for my eyelids, it keeps the foil shadows from looking like they’re dried out.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Gift: A Highland Novella by Margaret Mallory

Lily's well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city's witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can't save her.  

Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have the gift his clan needs - and he burns with passion for her - he's determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart. When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?

Publisher: Margaret Mallory Author  | Narrator: Derek Perkins | Length: 3 hours, 17 minutes  |  Genre: Historical Romance | Source: Audible Escape | Rating: 4 Cups
Challenges Read For:  - Audiobook Challenge - Literary Pickers : Fireplace 
She’s a stubborn Sassenach and he’s a determined Highlander on a mission. Sounds fun, aye?
Lily’s a healer who has fled to Scotland during London’s witch hunt. Roderick’s on a mission to find the healer/seer his seanmhair (Scots Gaelic for grandmother) has sent him to find. When Roderick rescues a nearly frozen Lily and discovers she’s a healer on her way to learn from a more powerful healer, he’s sure she’s the healer/seer his seanmhair has him searching for. Convincing her to travel with him for her safety, they both find themselves falling for each other although when they return to Roderick’s home, Lily soon discovers he had ulterior motives. Will Roderick be able to convince Lily he’s in love with her?
It’s been a minute since I’ve read Margaret Mallory and I forgot how much I enjoy her writing. She has the ability to draw me in from the start and hold my attention until the very end.
Roderick and Lily made a fun pair—he’s determined, a bit broody, and a complete Highlander, she’s a sassy, stubborn redhead. They have chemistry from the start but they both have their qualms and, after learning of Roderick’s mission, Lily’s hesitant to trust him.
While this one was rather short—the audio was just over 3 hours—it was still a nicely rounded novella. Could it have been longer and would I have liked it to have been longer? Most definitely. Although I was rather pleased with how it was.
This is connected to the Return of the Highlanders series, is a standalone novella.
Derek Perkins is one of my favorite narrators of historical romance but I feel like he was almost a bit too proper sounding for a 15th century highlander. It’s just a personal preference but I like a little more roughness to come across in the Highland burr.
Overall, this was a fun little Yuletide Highland romance. If you’re wanting a quick refresher, then I recommend this novella.

Historical Trivia:
The Gift is set in late 1441 and Lily flees London to escape the witch-hunt of King Henry VI. While the book makes it sound as though the King’s Guard was beating down doors in search of ‘witches’ it wasn’t as dire as that.

While people in England were being accused of witchcraft and sorcery since the 10th century, it wasn’t until 1441 that the accused was burnt at the stake.

The story is an interesting and high-reaching one that started when Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester consulted astrologers to divine the future. This wasn’t an uncommon thing in this era or the ones that followed, the trouble lay in what astrologers Thomas Southwell and Roger Bolingbroke (also a physician) were predicting and that was the death of King Henry VI.

When the King’s guard discovered this prediction, they followed the rumors and began interrogating Southwell, Bolingbroke, and John Hum (Eleanor’s personal confessor). Soon after Southwell and Bolingbroke were arrested on treasonable necromancy charges, they named Eleanor as the instigator; she was also tried and charged. It was believed that her mindset was if the king dies, then her husband the Duke of Gloucester would be king. Once again, Eleanor would have the upper hand.

While Eleanor denied most of the charges, she confessed to obtaining potions from Margery Jourdemayne, "the Witch of Eye". These potions and her consultations with the astrologers, Eleanor claimed, were to help her conceive. Failing to believe her, all involved—with exception of John Hum—were found guilty.

Eleanor was banished for life to the Isle of Man. Southwell died in the Tower and Bolingbroke was hanged, drawn, and quartered. In October of 1441, Margery Jourdemayne, ‘the Witch of Eye’ and noted diviner, was burnt at the stake in Smithfield.

It wasn’t until the 16th century that witch hunts in Scotland and England started on a larger scale.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Something to Stitch About 2020 Goals

I have so many embroidery and cross-stitch projects that I’ve bought then just stashed in my sewing boxes and bags that it’s starting to get ridiculous. So, I decided that one of my goals for 2017 would be to tackle some of my stitching projects and so Something to Stitch About was born.

I’m going to be realistic with my goal and aim for 5 finished stitching projects by the end of the year. If I manage more, that will be great but 5 seems reasonable.
Goal: 4 Stitching Projects and 2 Sewing Projects

Items I Want to Work On


1-Christmas Deer tablecloth and table runner (I started the table runner Thanksgiving night 2019 and completed on side)
2-Ship stand scarf
3-Thistle stand scarf and pillowcases
4- Item to be decided


1-Bee Quilt
2-A quilt for a gift